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October 23, 2013updated Oct 24, 2013

The Modern Man: Male Grooming and the Übersexual

By Chris Boyle

Gentlemen's Tonic1Men face more pressure than ever to look good. Exclusive grooming salons are answering their call by offering spa treatments that are redefining what it is to be male.

Masculinity is changing – facials and manicures are becoming part of the modern man’s regime. Spas are offering treatment menus specially designed for men striving to meet expectations to be well groomed. It’s now the age of the “übersexual”.

“It’s not metrosexual and it’s not macho. Übersexual is a man making the most of himself in all aspects,” says Deborah Gayle, managing director of men’s salon The Refinery in London’s Mayfair. “Metrosexual vs. macho has gone out the window. What men do and what they stand for has changed massively.”

Olivier Bonnefoy, founder and managing director of the men-only Gentlemen’s Tonic, has seen the male grooming sector grow over the past few years. Its first site in London opened in 2004 but the brand has since expanded to Asia and the Middle East. Plans are also in place for new sites in Doha, Moscow and New Delhi. “We started with one almost ten years ago and we’ll hopefully finish this year with seven sites globally. I think that’s testament to its popularity,” Bonnefoy says.

The rise in male grooming services is simply meeting the demand. A 2013 report by marketing firm JWT found that 76% of British and American men think they face more pressure than ever to keep up appearances. And 32% of those aged between 18 and 34 thought it was acceptable to get facials. SpaFinder president Susie Ellis said in the JWT report that men now account for about 30% of US spa visitors.

The Refinery’s Deborah Gayle says there was once a stigma attached to male grooming but that has gradually disappeared. “Men at one point would have never admitted to having grooming done. I think the biggest change is that they’re now happy to refer their friends. Men’s grooming has become a more popular discussion,” she says.

Alfred DunhillTreatments available to men include pedicures, eye lifts and eyebrow tintings on top of the more traditional shaving and haircut services. Hotel spas and even fashion houses are quickly joining male grooming salons in this market. Spas at the Landmark and Four Seasons hotels in London offer exclusively designed treatments for men. Alfred Dunhill’s Bourdon House in London (pictured, left) has a similar menu of services.

Gayle says one type of treatment is particularly popular at The Refinery. “We do so many facials now and I think a lot of that is to do with education. Men are beginning to understand that keeping your skin healthy is not a girly thing. It’s a matter of good health and hygiene,” she says.

Bonnefoy says anti-ageing facial treatments are popular at his Gentlemen’s Tonic. He thinks attitudes towards male grooming have developed from the days where beauty treatments, in men’s eyes, belonged in the realm of women.

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Gayle believes this change in perception started about ten years ago. She says: “I hate to say it but it’s the David Beckham effect. He was manly and sporty but happy to be seen in all sorts of clothes and with all sorts of hairstyles. I think it stirred something up.”

Increasing pressures of modern life have also had an influence. “City guys are often exhausted, their skin is drained of vitamins and they’re staring at computers all day. There’s also the pollution. They’re doing all the things that equate to bad skin,” Gayle says, explaining why so many locations offering male grooming services are in urban areas.

Men may be more open to taking up these remedies nowadays but Bonnefoy and Gayle agree that women are still the ones encouraging boyfriends and husbands to do so. “I would certainly say women have helped – behind any good man there’s a better woman,” Bonnefoy explains.

Gayle says: “Women’s masculine heroes, if you look at them now, are well-groomed men.” These heroes are the new face of masculinity, taking care in their appearance but also having the strength of a traditional male. The road to übersexuality goes through grooming for the modern man.

Continue reading to find out about the world’s best spas offering men’s treatments.

Bulgari Hotels & Resorts

Cabanas at Bulgari Hotels & ResortsFashion house Bulgari has hotels in Bali, Milan and London with a fourth coming to Shanghai in 2015.

The luxurious spa facilities at all its locations offer treatments designed for men by ESPA, the acclaimed therapy experts. The Milan spa offers ESPA Men’s Purifying Facial with Shoulder and Scalp Massage. The treatment tackles the effects of stress, travel, fatigue and pollution.

The Bulgari Hotel in Bali has package deals for couples that feature therapies drawing from Asian practices. The spa is positioned 150 metres over the sea, providing a stunning view to accompany relaxing treatments.

The Refinery

The Refinery is a male grooming salon opposite luxury hotel Claridge's. The Refinery sits opposite luxury hotel Claridge’s in London’s Mayfair. It opened in January 2000 and now has a second site in Harrods department store. The brand also has its own range of skincare products.

Customers get their own private room in a tranquil environment at the Refinery. The men’s grooming salon offers facials, manicures and massages as well as hair removal and self-tan procedures.

Its most comprehensive offering is the Refined package deal, which comprises all the different types of treatments such as a facial, manicure and massage.

Read a review of The Refinery here.

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental has hotels and spas around the worldThe spa at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Paris has a Gentleman Essentials collection of treatments designed to meet men’s beauty needs.

It uses products from male grooming specialist The Refinery with services including facials as well as face and body treatments. There is also a fitness coaching option that combines a one-hour fitness session with either a facial or face and body treatment.

This collection of treatments was launched in June 2013. The Mandarin Oriental Group has other hotels and spas around the world with its Boston site also offering the Gentleman Essentials range.

Gentlemen’s Tonic

Gentlemen's Tonic will have seven sites around the world by the end of 2013Men-only grooming salon Gentlemen’s Tonic first opened in London’s Mayfair in 2004.

It will finish 2013 with seven sites around the world including new branches in Doha, Moscow and New Delhi. It already has locations in Dubai and Hong Kong as well as two in London.

Gentlemen’s Tonic offers facials, manicures and pedicures on top of traditional grooming services such as shaves and haircuts. It also has package deals that combine all of these elements. The Buhl package includes a rejuvenation facial, hot stone treatment, deep tissue massage and a bespoke foot treatment. It goes on for more than three hours and targets “those who want to reach new heights”.

The Landmark Hotel

Landmark Hotel's spa facilitiesThe Landmark Hotel in London’s Marylebone offers spa treatments specifically designed for men.

Many of its treatments use herbs and seaweed, helping to relieve stress and promote wellbeing. Seaweed leaves are placed on the face in the VOYA Facial Experience and let its antioxidants work. The VOYA Herbal Bag Massage uses warm bags of herbs and seaweed that release precious oils when massaged into the body.

All treatments at The Landmark Spa & Health Club are available to men and women. It also has gym, sauna, steam room and swimming pool facilities. But the specially crafted, recommended treatments are most appealing for the well-groomed male.

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